Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What causes chronic bowel disease?

06.11.2012
Europe-wide network for investigating irritable bowel syndrome headed by Heidelberg University Hospital/European Science Foundation provides 500,000 euros in funding for understanding causes, improving options for diagnosis and treatment

For the first time, scientists from 19 European countries have joined forces to form an interdisciplinary network for investigating the causes of irritable bowel syndrome and improving options for diagnosis and treatment.


Intestinal mucosa cells under the microscope: Serotonin receptors are stained green, nerve fibers are stained red.

Image: Heidelberg University Hospital

The European Science Foundation is funding the network, entitled GENIEUR (Genes in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Europe) and headed by biologist Dr. Beate Niesler of Heidelberg University Hospital’s Institute of Human Genetics, providing 500,000 euros over the next four years. Some five million patients in Germany suffer from symptoms including stomachache, constipation or diarrhea, frequently accompanied by other illnesses such as migraine, anxiety or depression, and often have these symptoms for years. To date, only symptoms of the disease can be treated.

Over 70 research groups are participating in the GENIEUR network. “GENIEUR is the world’s first large-scale interdisciplinary approach to investigating irritable bowel syndrome,” explained Niesler, head of the Neurogastrointestinal and Psychiatric Disorders Research Group at the Department of Molecular Human Genetics and spokesperson for the network. “Our goal is not just to identify characteristic changes in a patient’s genome, but to also test an array of possible interactions, for instance, the interactions between and lifestyle, diet, allergies, mental illness, pain syndromes, past infections or changes in intestinal flora,” Niesler said. It is also important to define uniform diagnostic criteria and subgroups of the syndrome, so that patients can benefit from a suitable treatment more quickly, she added. Besides gastroenterologists and human geneticists, the network also includes nutritionists, psychiatrists, immunologists, physiologists, neurobiologists, microbiologists, bioinformatic specialists and epidemiologists.

Certain changes in the genome promote irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common diseases of the intestinal tract. As much as 15 percent of Europe’s population suffers from the disease, which strongly impacts the patients’ overall well-being and quality of life. Depending on the type and severity of the symptoms, they are barely able to leave the house, cannot work or pursue their hobbies. Since little has been known about the causes of irritable bowel syndrome to date, diagnosis and treatment have been difficult. Currently, diagnosis is performed by ruling out other diseases, while for treatment trial and error is the only method available. Remedies that alleviate symptoms in some patients, such as special anti-inflammatory drugs, are completely ineffective for others, so that finding the right treatment can be a long and-drawn-out process that for some patients is not successful.

In 2008, the team headed by Niesler discovered that the nervous disturbances of the bowel can be exacerbated by changes in the genome. In patients who have IBS with diarrhea, the genetic blueprint for certain receptors in the bowel has often been changed. The receptors are located at the surface of the intestinal cells and bind the hormone serotonin. If they are changed, signal transmission in the bowel is disturbed. These research findings provided an initial approach for targeted drug therapy. “However, the receptors have changed in only some of the patients. We assume that several variants of this disease exist that can be attributed to different molecular causes in each case,” Niesler said.
New diagnostic criteria intended to simplify treatment

In order to detect these molecular factors, the teams are now establishing the first biobank with stool and tissue specimens from patients and healthy controls and are systematically collecting patient data. In so doing, they are aiming to identify reliable biomarkers and compile a catalog of criteria to precisely assign patients to individual subgroups. “If physicians can reliably assign their patients to a certain group, they can better predict which treatments are most likely to benefit the patients.” This may spare patients a long period of suffering,” Niesler explained. In addition, the teams plan to use genetic analyses of the subgroups to obtain information on the mechanism by which each variation of the syndrome evolves and on possible treatment approaches.

More information is available on the Web:
http://www.GENIEUR.eu

Participating centers in German with contact addresses:
http://www.RDS-net.uni-hd.de
http://www.ag-niesler.uni-hd.de

Contact
Dr. Beate Niesler
Institute of Human Genetics, Department of Molecular Human Genetics
Heidelberg University Hospital
Tel.: +49 06221 56-35274
Email: beate.niesler@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Heidelberg University Hospital and Medical Faculty:
Internationally recognized patient care, research, and teaching
Heidelberg University Hospital is one of the largest and most prestigious medical centers in Germany. The Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University belongs to the internationally most renowned biomedical research institutions in Europe. Both institutions have the common goal of developing new therapies and implementing them rapidly for patients. With about 11,000 employees, training and qualification is an important issue. Every year, around 550,000 patients are treated on an inpatient or outpatient basis in more than 50 clinics and departments with 2,000 beds. Currently, about 3,600 future physicians are studying in Heidelberg; the reform Heidelberg Curriculum Medicinale (HeiCuMed) is one of the top medical training programs in Germany.

Requests by journalists:
Dr. Annette Tuffs
Head of Public Relations and Press Department
University Hospital of Heidelberg and
Medical Faculty of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
D-69120 Heidelberg
Germany
phone: +49 6221 / 56 45 36
fax: +49 6221 / 56 45 44
e-mail: annette.tuffs(at)med.uni-heidelberg.de

Dr. Annette Tuffs | idw
Further information:
http://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/presse

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Mobile phone test can reveal vision problems in time
11.02.2016 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Proteomics and precision medicine
08.02.2016 | University of Iowa Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Production of an AIDS vaccine in algae

Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.

The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...

Im Focus: The most accurate optical single-ion clock worldwide

Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".

Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...

Im Focus: Goodbye ground control: autonomous nanosatellites

The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.

Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...

Im Focus: Flow phenomena on solid surfaces: Physicists highlight key role played by boundary layer velocity

Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.

The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

Im Focus: New study: How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation in Africa 2016

12.02.2016 | Event News

Travel grants available: Meet the world’s most proficient mathematicians and computer scientists

09.02.2016 | Event News

AKL’16: Experience Laser Technology Live in Europe´s Largest Laser Application Center!

02.02.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

LIGO confirms RIT's breakthrough prediction of gravitational waves

12.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Gene switch may repair DNA and prevent cancer

12.02.2016 | Life Sciences

Using 'Pacemakers' in spinal cord injuries

12.02.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>